Caviar is the processed, salted roe of certain species of fish, most notably the Sturgeon (“Black Caviar”) and the salmon (“Red Caviar”). It is commercially marketed worldwide as a delicacy and is eaten as a garnish or a spread; for example, with hors d’oeuvres. Classic caviar comes primarily from Iran or Russia, harvested by commercial fishermen working in the Caspian Sea.
Once the female fish are caught, the next steps follow quickly: the Sturgeon is taken to a nearby processing centre. The ovaries of the fish are beaten to loosen the eggs, which are then freed from fat and membrane by being passed through a sieve. The liquid is pressed off, and the eggs are mildly salted and sealed in small tins or kegs.
Protein: 25.3 g
Fat: 17 g
Cholesterol: 440 mg
Sodium: 1,700 mg
Phosphorus: 330 mg
Potassium: 164 mg
Calcium: 51 mg
Sugar: 4 g
The Sturgeon is a prehistoric fish with over 20 species which are native to the subtropical, temperate and sub-Arctic rivers, lakes and coastlines of Eurasia and North America. No species are known to naturally occur south of the equator. In the past, the Caspian Sea was the natural habitat of the most prized species of Sturgeon and the birthplace of caviar production in the world. Iran and the former U.S.S.R., two nations surrounding the Caspian Sea, were the only two nations to produce caviar. However, after the dissolution of the USSR, there has been a breakdown in controlling the previously strict quotas on Sturgeon catches. This, in addition with increased pollution and habitat destruction has resulted in the decline of Caspian Sea as the main source of caviar production. Today, with advances in aquafarming technology and modern techniques, a variety of Sturgeons are being successfully farmed for caviar throughout the world. Farms are spead out throughtout the globe, from Europe and North America, to Uruguay and China.
Poaching, overfishing and pollution have resulted in a free fall of Sturgeon landings in the Caspian Sea. As as result, farming Sturgeons has become a good alternative to providing caviar for people around the world to enjoy. Sad but true: Wild caviar is doomed. The market for farmed caviar (as opposed to wild caviar) has grown tremendously over the past years. Regulations in trade, environmental concerns, prices and the increasing quality of farmed caviar, have all contributed to its popularity. Farming is becoming more prevalent and over a dozen countries now have viable commercial activities in caviar farming. Italy and France are among the most well-established producers in this field. Unfortunately, the mismanagement of some wild Sturgeon stocks has led to concerns over the future well-being of the wild caviar industry. The quality of farmed caviar is extremely high and connoisseurs of caviar are also reassured by the fact that fish are farmed and selected based on their quality and monitoring takes place at every single stage.
Caviar is considered in appetizer that is to be enjoyed in small amounts. It is tasteful and healthy. Made of fish roe and salt, it is a good source of calcium and phosphorus, as well as protein, selenium, iron, magnesium, and Vitamins B12, B6, B2, B44, C, A, and D. It also contains the amino acids arginine and histidine, as well as the essential amino acids lysine, isoleucine, and methionine. One tablespoon of caviar contains a gram of Omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent heart disease.
Classic caviar service is simple and elegant. Keep caviar refrigerated until ready to serve. Ideally nestle the entire open tin or jar in a bed of crushed ice, with the lid alongside. This is not only attractive, but also informative to your guests. Accompany caviar with fresh toast points, with or without butter, blini, or potatoes. Perhaps a touch of crème fraiche, but nothing more to mask the intense and bewitching experience of eating caviar
The traditional condiments are hard boiled egg yolks, egg whites, chives, sour cream, capers, and red onions. However, caviar connoisseurs insist that any ingredient that alter the taste and distract from the pure flavour of Sturgeon caviar should not be used and that these condiments should be saved for other less expensive grades of caviar only.
Some caviar can be stored frozen for up to a year, and some others really should never be frozen at all, but should only be kept refrigerated. Caviar should be consumed on the same day that the tin is opened. Whenever possible the caviar should be kept cold over crushed ice. If the caviar cannot be consumed in the first day, flatten the caviar in the tin and cover with a sheet of plastic wrap. Gently press the plastic wrap down over the caviar to remove air pockets and store in the refrigerator surrounded by crushed ice.
Unopened containers of fresh caviar should also be stored in the refrigerator with crushed ice. Stored in this manner, the caviar should last two to three weeks. Unopened pasteurized caviar tins typically hold for six months on the shelf. If caviar has been frozen, very slowly return it to a thawed state by keeping it in the refrigerator over ice for a day or two.
If you want to buy some caviar but are a little worried about caviar shelf life, here’s a list of the more popular varieties of caviar with their corresponding shelf life times…
This list assumes refrigerated storage in a temperature between 0 Celsius to 4 Celsius.
Beluga Caviar – 4 weeks
Imperial Caviar – 4 weeks
Osetra Caviar – 4 weeks
Sevruga Caviar – 4 weeks
Atlantic Sturgeon Caviar – 4 weeks, can be frozen up to 1 year
White Sturgeon Caviar – 4 weeks, can be frozen up to 1 year
Siberian Sturgeon Caviar – 4 weeks, can be frozen up to 1 year
Paddlefish Caviar – 4 weeks, can be frozen up to 1 year
Salmon Caviar – 1 week, can be frozen up to 2 years
Trout Caviar – 1-2 weeks, can be frozen up to 2 years
Whitefish Caviar (black or golden) – 1 week, can be frozen up to 2 years
Keeping these shelf life times in mind, you can now know just how much caviar to order for how many people and for how long it will stay fresh. As expensive as some of this stuff can be, you definitely want to enjoy every bit of it to the fullest.